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Wednesday, October 27, 2010     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Israeli military scenario see Palestinian Authority 'could turn into an enemy'

TEL AVIV — The Israel Army has been training for a battle with the Palestinian Authority.


The Army has been training units based in the West Bank for the prospect of an attack by PA security forces, Middle East Newsline reported. The training has included rapid response to a PA police ambush and other conflict scenarios drafted by the Army's Central Command.

"The most extreme situation that we can envision in the command is that the Palestinian Authority will decide to turn its weapons against us," Central Command chief Maj. Gen. Avi Mizrachi said.

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Earlier this month, Central Command conducted an exercise that envisioned a PA attack on Israeli units in the West Bank. The exercise was assigned to the Army's Nahshon Battalion at the Command's training base in the southern area of Lachish.

"This is a possible scenario, but we do not believe it will happen in actuality," Mizrachi said.

Officials said the military has long warned of the transformation of the PA security forces into a military. They cited Western plans for enhanced training as well as PA procurement of armored vehicles, communications and night-vision systems.

"We must be prepared for a situation in which the PA could turn into an enemy," Brig. Gen. Nitzan Alon, commander of Israeli forces in the West Bank, said.

Addressing a training session by Central Command, Alon said the PA could suspend its cooperation with Israel, particularly in the area of counter-insurgency. He envisioned the prospect whereby the PA would also facilitate Hamas operations against Israel.

Senior officers told the seminar that Hamas and other insurgency groups have increased operations in the West Bank in 2010. They cited the rise in abduction attempts of Israelis over the last year.

"Last year we counted five unsuccessful attempted kidnappings, but this year there has been an increase in these incidents," the intelligence officer of Central Command, identified only as Col. Ronen, said. "Kidnapping is one of the main goals of the terrorist organizations."

At this point, Central Command has deemed the PA a security partner. Mizrachi said the PA has been working with Israel to block Hamas attacks.

"Today the security coordination enables us to thwart terrorism, and that is what we need," Mizrachi said.

But officials said Palestinian insurgents in the West Bank were increasing cooperation with Hamas operators in the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. They said this has enhanced Hamas operations, particularly in intelligence.

"The Palestinian leaders fear a Hamas takeover of the Judea and Samaria [West Bank] region more than they fear us," Mizrachi said. "It is important to remember that even after the next clash, both sides will remain here."

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